For the past four months I have been working as an intern with the Northwest Renewable Energy Festival. This festival will occur on September 20-22, 2002 on the Whitman College campus. Its purpose is to provide a place for dialogue and information sharing on topics relating to renewable energy for all people, including business people, home owners, farm owners, and children. Specifically, I have been working on ways to get children involved in learning about renewable energy in the classroom and at the festival itself. When I first entered the internship, my expectations and objectives were slightly different than what has actually been accomplished and what direction the internship has currently taken. Furthermore, there have been many frustrating times in which I felt that I had little direction, but, on the whole, this has been a very exciting and educational experience.
Upon starting this internship, my objectives were as follows (recorded in my log on 1/23/02):
·To meet with Kevin Scribner at least every two weeks, completing assigned tasks.
·To be proactive and complete tasks independently.
·To work with festival until the festival is completed and possibly beyond.
·To give my ideas that might benefit the festival during meetings.
·To specifically work on the education committee and help get children involved with the festival.
As it stands, there are two major components of this internship. One is communicating with the Executive Committee, attending bi-monthly meetings, and acting as a co-chair of the Education Committee with Lyn Lindell. At these meetings, I am asked to report on my progress and I am sometimes asked to take minutes. This component of my internship mainly involves the planning of the actual event in the fall and assisting with other jobs. Some of my projects have included compiling a list of children’s websites for use on the festival’s website, creating a memo to send out to teachers about the fair, assisting with the children’s poster contest, and, most recently, recruiting more interns and volunteers. I sent out an e-mail to the Whitman student listserve and have received many responses from interested students.
The other component has been co-teaching lesson plans relating to renewable energy in K-5 classrooms of Walla Walla with Kate Ritley. This has truly been a wonderful experience (probably my favorite part of the internship thus far). I give an infinite amount of credit to Kate Ritley, another student intern, for creating the lesson plan, contacting all the teachers, as well as numerous other aspects of planning that is involved in such a project. Kate Ritley has been a huge help in this internship as she held the position of co-chair of the Education Committee for most of the semester. She handed me over the job as she is leaving for a semester next year. I have really looked to her for a lot of my questions during this time of transition. I anticipate taking on both the teaching and planning responsibilities in the fall.
Kevin Scribner has, in my opinion, been a very enthusiastic but often too idealistic sponsor. He has many brilliant ideas but never seems to follow through with any of them. This is due, in part, to his insanely busy schedule. I felt that many times I really wanted to dive in and do something useful for the fair but Kevin just wanted to talk about all his ideas. He did not provide much of a guide for what Lance and I were supposed to do. Furthermore, I rarely was able to meet with him after Spring Break as he was always traveling. So, to ameliorate this problem, I took matters into my own hands and basically lost contact with Kevin while initiating other contacts, such as with Lyn Lindell and Kate Ritley. More was accomplished during meetings with Lyn and Kate and my tasks and role as an intern became more pertinent to my own objectives and goals.
Another source of frustration is general miscommunication between different parties. Karen Yager does an excellent job of providing people with minutes to the meetings as well as any other pertinent information regarding other similar festivals. However, many times people do not attend the meetings and do not read their e-mails. Thus, they are not up to date with current progress, etc. One example of this is the idea that Friday, September 20, is supposed to involve field trips by schools, according to the Executive Committee. Yet I recently met with Lyn Lindell and she says that such a proposal involves too many people resources and time, two things that we do not have. Furthermore, the idea of having a prize system to encourage children to go to all the booths during the fair, I thought, was abandoned. Upon speaking with Lyn, she says that this idea should definitely be pursued.
For those interested in such an internship, I would recommend to make certain that you know your goals and objectives for each week. Make your tasks specific, not just “planning children’s activities.” And if you have questions, ask. Maintain communication with your sponsor and other important contacts. Another problem for me was trying to do everything. I realized, however, that my time was better spent focusing on specific tasks.
The following is a list of websites for children and teachers (and everyone else, too!) that I compiled and sent to Dana Sexton who will hopefully put it on our website. Check them out!
* www.nwrefest.org/ (our very own website!)
From various meetings and phone and e-mail conversations, I have compiled the following list of important contacts for this internship:
Kevin Scribner, sponsor, Agricultural Committee Chair
Karen Yager, Executive Committee Chair
Lyn Lindell, Co-chair, Education Committee
Tom Osborn, Bonneville Power
Sharon Johnson, Walla Walla recycling
Peggy Willcuts, Walla Walla School District science coordinator
Mrs. Bilet, 5th Grade Teacher, Prospect Place Elementary School
Dana Sexton, Publicity Chair
Anne Walsh, Publicity Chair
Doug Morton, Content/Agenda Chair
Kate Ritley, Education Co-chair
Jamie Griffith, EEK volunteer
Judy Pinney, Girl Scouts contact
Tom, science teacher
During the past four months I have learned a lot about the amount of planning that goes on for a major event such as the Northwest Renewable Energy Festival. I have also learned that communication is one of the major hurdles in group planning. Setting up meetings is always difficult with busy schedules. It is also difficult to be a liaison between people, passing on messages in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Overall, I have learned a great deal about communication and the amount of effort that goes into such an event as the Northwest Renewable Energy Festival. I am very excited to continue this internship in the future and see the final product of the festival in the fall.